How is PTSD treated?

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Psychological treatment

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the commonly recommended treatment for PTSD.

However, in cases where people have developed PTSD following exposure to long-lasting and/or repeated traumatic events (such as sexual assault), therapy may place a greater emphasis  on emotional regulation, developing a deeper therapeutic alliance and applying a more gradual approach to exposure therapy

Preliminary evidence indicates that CBT delivered via the internet is also effective for treating PTSD                                                                        

Other psychological treatments for PTSD may incorporate aspects of CBT, such as:

  • Education about PTSD
  • Training in controlling hyperventilation
  • Relaxation training
  • Distraction techniques
  • Gradual exposure to cues that trigger distress and are reminders of the trauma (imagined, virtual reality-based and real-life exposure)
  • Learning to alter unhelpful thinking patterns and beliefs
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
  • Stress inoculation training
  • Treatment of other conditions such as depression


The recommended medication for PTSD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants, which provide relief from the range of PTSD symptoms.

Other medications, such as tricyclic and monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants tend to only target specific aspects of PTSD. Antipsychotic medications are less commonly prescribed, but can target particular symptoms

Page last updated 22-Dec-2009
Last Updated : 14-Oct-2013